I am now in the possession of a new Nokia Lumia 920. After about 6 years of iPhone ownership, I decided to take the plunge into the world of Windows Phone 8. And so far? I’m very pleased. Read on for more first impressions on the hardware and software.
I feel like I’ve come full circle. I received my very first cell phone just weeks after graduating from college in 2001. It was a Nokia feature phone with a little plastic sliding cover that protected the little plastic keys. But, whoa! Has Nokia come a long was since then! I am very impressed with build quality of the 920. After many years of Apple’s monochrome options, I decided to branch out and choose Nokia’s Cyan handset. The Cyan and Black options are the only ones with the matte finish, which for me is crucial. I don’t plan on keeping this phone in a case, and holding a phone with the glossy finish frightens me a bit. “Solid” doesn’t quite do the phone justice. A lot of reviews have criticized the phone for its heft and girth, but I think they’re blown WAY out of proportion — unless these people possess a Mr. Burnsian physique. Regarding the size, the biggest adjustment is getting used to its 4.5 inch screen size. While I was quite adept at navigating the iPhone with one hand, doing the same with the 920 is challenging. The trade-off is an amazing screen, and totally worth it.
I’m a very big fan of the micro USB connection. I had had enough of Apple’s proprietary connections. I have several other devices — Bluetooth headset and an HP tablet, to name two — that use this same micro USB connection, so a charging option is never far away.
The rest of the hardware is adequate. The camera is taking some getting used to. The NFC and wireless charging capabilities are interesting; I’ll need more time to investigate those.
For those of you switching from iOS to WP8, prepare for a drastic change. The two can’t be more different. I don’t want to attempt an entire review of the OS. Instead, I’ll just point out a few things that have struck a chord.
First, I love how the People hub aggregates all the social media updates for each contact. I am NOT a social media junkie, so being able to quickly catch up on all of a contact’s updates on one screen is awesome. In the same app you can also access all your communications history — SMS, email, phone, etc. — with that contact. This puts an end to the whole was-that-from-a-text-or-an-email debate.
The Windows Phone back button is an actual BACK BUTTON. I can’t tell you how many times in iOS that I wanted to bounce back to a previous application I came from. But, alas! You are forced to double-tap the home button and manually select the application to jump to. In WP8, the capacitive back button works across the platform. So if you go from your home screen to a text message to a web page and clicked on a phone number to get to the dialer, the back button will take you back through the various apps in reverse order. Amazing! It’s the little things, people!
The most striking thing about the WP8 interface is how much sense it makes — especially when compared to the rows of stale iOS icons that Apple provides. I can completely customize the layout to look and behave the way that I want. And it goes beyond the Live Tiles that everyone seems familiar with. The lock screen is highly customizable as well.
The biggest complement that I can give WP8 is to simply say that it’s beautiful. In my first day of having the phone, my wife — who had made a small upgrade to an iphone 4S — was looking over my shoulder and remarked, “I am a bit jealous of your phone; it looks pretty cool.”
Here we go… By far, the most popular criticism of WP8 is its perceived lack of available apps in the app store. I read this same criticism so many times from so many different reviewers that I began to believe it myself. That is, until I actually started using the phone.
I should preface this by saying that I am not a heavy apps user; If I have email access, SMS access, web access, music, videos, and a couple games, then I am a happy camper. The rest is just icing, as they say. But I have been pleased with the selection of apps available on WP8. I am preparing an app comparison chart for another post to provide more details, but so far I am finding that almost all of my key requirements are met TODAY on the WP8 platform. Will the latest and greatest apps be available first on WP8? Anyone switching to WP8 knows that won’t be the case for a while. But the fact is that a ton of key apps are available right now on WP8. And each passing day brings more apps to the platform, and the app criticism becomes thinner and thinner.
So far, I have to admit that I am impressed with Windows Phone 8 and Nokia. Regarding many of the other reviews I have read… It would seem that either I am not the typical smartphone user, or my requirements are much different from those reviewing the phone. However, my comments above are only the result of a few days worth of use. I am still learning more and more about the phone and the OS, but it looks promising. I would have no reservations about recommending this phone and OS to any adventurous, bored iphone users out there.